The unofficial guide for hospitals, clinics, and destination tourism and hospitality partners.
Did you know that most (>80%) of the medical tourism startup initiatives around the world fail to meet or exceed revenue targets in their first 5 years?
Follow these steps to beat the odds and develop a sustainable product and source market strategy instead of simply trying to sell surgeries and spa visits.
Step #1 – Adequate research and advice
Conduct medical tourism market research to define your target demographic and referral sources. Ask experienced medical tourism experts who can bring global insights to provide guidance on trends and how they might apply to what you plan to offer as your product strategy. They can help you narrow your focus to a short list of quick starts that will differentiate you from competitors and produce turnover. They can also introduce you to referral sources and cultivate raw assets you may not even realize you have in the palms of your hands.
Step #2 – Create Collateral
Prepare the right kinds of promotional and informational materials and distribute to acheive maximum effectiveness. These materials include a well-developed responsive (desktop, tablet and smartphone) website with the proper design strategy for an international audience. Create informational collateral of high-quality, with culturally and idiomatically correct translations. Prepare professional press releases, fact sheets, product reviewer’s guides, video assets, and professionally-photographed, high-resolution images. Use as few stock images as possible, leaning more heavily on your own professionally-photographed and edited proprietary images.
Step #3 – Find advocates
Hire top-tier, internationally recognized medical and other tourism experts and online influencers that will review your product strategy before you invest lots of money on conferences, exhibit stands, and fam tours. Connect with the market through these influencers. Supply them with pre-launch information and ask them to analyze what you’ve prepared, and critique your plans to make last minute adjustments. Then contract with them to promote or mention your product with well-developed, expert testimonials.
Step #4 – Spread the Word
Announce your launch via professional press releases, social media channels, and digital advertising media. Send emails to potential referral sources (referring physicians, facilitators, tourism boards, associations, bloggers and past customers. If your product could be of interest to insurers or global corporations, make sure to include them in your email campaigns. Focus on “storytelling content” marketing that explains what you do differently and how people benefit from your new product. Create a website that uses that storytelling content to describe the consumer experiences you create to maximize search engine rankings and consumer engagement. Avoid listing procedures available for sale and all your fancy gadgets and certifications.
Step #5 – Follow up
Make a plan that includes continuous campaigns to remain top of mind with bloggers and online media channels, past customers and other influencers. Include newsworthy tidbits, statistics, outcomes, and new consumer testimonials. Announce any successful contracts you negotiate.
Step #6 – Measure successes
Use Google Analytics and other metrics sources to measure and publish successes.
So often, medical tourism providers, investors, and government agencies ask me how they should start to prepare. The days of long, boring business plans and expensive feasibility studies are over. Business moves much faster these days. Medical tourism program launches are leaner, more focused, and move faster because they are an expansion of existing service lines.
Don’t skimp on research, solid advice and quality creative materials. To prepare for patients and to do business, develop your patient relations department team and workflows that deliver service, safety, and foresight. Medical tourism admissions coordination and follow up are extremely different than dealing with local patients.
Medical tourism services are more costly to deliver than local or regional care. This must be calculated into pricing formulas. If you don’t know your costs and your patient relations requirements, you will risk underpricing your packages and possibly losing money on every case you win. That’s an unsustainable proposition.
Medical tourism business generates 5-7 times the revenue of the surgical procedure, some times as much as twelve times as much as the price of the surgery. Visitors remain at a destination longer than typical holiday-makers and business travelers. They may require special furniture to be rented to accomodate their medical needs in the hotel or lodging sites. Depending on your area of specialization, it may be necessary to expand your product to include serviced apartments, multi-room suites, and long-stay visa extension and immigration procedures. Plan ahead and “grade” various accommodations according to medical procedures you plan to offer through your medical tourism program, and inform the hoteliers and transportation partners what to expect rather than risk an unpleasant surprise or stress for all concerned.